back to article IDC: Linux support sales to break $1bn in 2012

So you think companies sell $1bn in Linux support contracts a year worldwide? Think again. That isn't going to happen until 2012, and maybe not at all if the trends of using commercial distros without paying for support continue apace. Al Gillen, the operating systems and virtualization analyst at IDC, wrapped up his worldwide …


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  1. Martin Owens

    Profit by Proxy

    Support is great and it's a lovely business to be in while the majority of people are not trained and the technology is too hard to use.

    But in the end, support services that encompass excludable products like training and call in support is only ever going to be a small pie slice compared to the bigger economic footprint of all those internal knowledgeable employees.

    Better start coming up with a more direct funding model if we want to seriously push the software forwards. We won't always have Oracle and Microsoft overpricing their services to make it easy for Red Hat and Novell to undercut them and still have money left over to show at R&D style core programming.

  2. Bruce 9
    Gates Halo

    Pay as you go with Microsoft

    We buy Microsoft support calls. 5 - 10 a year. They cost about 250$ each. If you don't need them, you don't use them. Cheap.

  3. Frumious Bandersnatch

    puts paid to the idea that linux is expensive

    If people aren't paying for external support because they have enough experience internally...

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    If you don't need support, don't buy it, but you really need to make the right decision here, don't just rely upon some geek in your IT department and his (or her) "leet hacksaw skillz" telling you that you don't need it. Think of support as insurance, you don't need it, right up until the point that you _really_ need it. I work for a very large company with a large skilled IT division and we still have need to call up Red Hat to get them to make their stuff work.

  5. Anonymous Coward

    re. Pay as you go with Microsoft

    Yes, but Microsoft isn't as dependent on support fees as Red Hat and Novell; Microsoft charges a license fee for the O/S so it can fund R&D from this.

    This is a real problem for Linux; without an underlying economic model for the distros, they will cease to exist and linux will be going backwards.

  6. Tom 7 Silver badge

    PC support for Linux?

    If I buy a car and it breaks down within 5 years I expect it to be fixed for free.

    If I cant drive I don't buy a car.

    Why is it in the computer industry people expect to pay for crap, to pay to have it fixed and to pay again when they feel like a bit more money.

    @ Bruce 9 - that's a lot of money to pay for someone else to look up the problem on MSDN - when I called for support they just sent me the same list of articles I'd found and tried myself before calling them.

    As for Linux - most people involved in development are trying to get a job done and not generate a massive revenue stream from failures - though it is seemingly being tried in a few places. It doesn't seem to cost anywhere as much to support. OS upgrades don't seem to require a £2500 training course to find out where the menu item has been moved to.

  7. James R Grinter

    RHEL without support contracts?

    "That is, of course, as long as companies don't install more instances of RHEL and SLES without a support contract than they do RHEL and SLES licenses with a support contract. "

    I can't see any 'real' company choosing to do that. For one, it invalidates their support and subscription contracts, and the support is why they choose to pay money to RH (and SuSE) in the first place!

  8. Peter Black

    License restrictions

    The comments on installing RHEL without support are a little confused, as you buy a subscription that includes support and a license to use the binary distribution. Thus, it is not legal to download and install the RHEL binary without paying for the subscription/license.

    You could, of course, download the source and build it yourself (or go to CentOS who do it for you) but I doubt that's what these RHEL users are doing.

  9. Niall
    Thumb Down

    How are they counting unpaid?

    We have 10 Windows servers and 35 Linux servers i.e. 12% Windows 78% Linux.

    Our purchases of Windows licenses were obviously recorded. But we self-installed Linux on the other servers, and we don't need support.

    The criteria in all IDC surveys I've seen would count companies like us as 100% Windows shops.

    In mild terms I'd say IDC surveys are deliberately misleading. They never mention such omissions in their reports.

  10. John 104

    No so free...

    So much for Linux being free! ;)

  11. Simpson

    pay attention

    $4500.00? I wonder if IDC makes more money on selling opinions, than Linux shops make on selling Linux support.

    Linux fanboy: Our purchases of Windows licenses were obviously recorded. But we self-installed Linux on the other servers, and we don't need support... I'd say IDC surveys are deliberately misleading...

    Windows fanboy: So much for Linux being free!

    Maybe you should both read the article, before posting. That's not $1B per shop, it's $1B total.

    The article isn't saying that Linux is expensive. It's saying that companies that sell Linux or sell support for Linux aren't making much money, and they are wondering how/if these companies can survive at this low (worldwide total) revenue rate.

    It's saying that there is no money to be made in supporting Linux.

    @ Tom 7

    "OS upgrades don't seem to require a £2500 training course to find out where the menu item has been moved to"


    So you're saying that settings and file locations in Linux are consistent from one distro to another, and from one version to another? Linux "just works", and users who learn one Linux system will not have to learn anything new for system upgrades or distro changes? Where do I sign up?

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